The Best Video Game Stories Of 2013
This year we killed a lot of zombies, traveled to exotic lands in the sky, punched some supervillains in the jaw, and sailed the seas as a pirate, but which stories really stuck with us? As the year draws to a close, I reflect back on some of the best stories told through video games this year.
Here are some of the best video game stories I experienced this year – in no particular order. It probably goes without saying, but expect some light spoilers ahead.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
The most impressive thing about Brothers is that it was told entirely without dialogue. All of the characters speak some ancient form of Simlish, so you can't understand them, and yet you still get the basic gist of the plot. After their mother dies at sea, two brothers journey across a fantastical land, hiding from ogres and traversing across a land of giants, in order to retrieve a magical potion that can heal their ailing father. The journey isn't easy, and it isn't completed without a cost. If you've already played the game, check out our afterwords about it. If you haven't played the game, do that first!
The Last of Us
Decades after a fungal plague nearly wipes out humanity, there is a glimmer of hope for it's survival. That hope is a young girl named Ellie – a girl with an immunity to the disease that has turned the population of entire cities into walking mushrooms. In order to help develop a cure, Ellie must travel to a research station on the other side of the country. Her journey beside her reluctant protector, Joel, is as harrowing as it is emotionally draining, and by the time you reach your destination, you feel like you've bonded with these characters. Check out our cover hub for a deeper look into this powerful game.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Here's a curve ball for you. I think that Blood Dragon is one of the best stories of the year, not because it tells some emotionally poignant story, but because it tells a hilarious narrative with unashamed panache. Set in a fictional 2007, where the world is reeling from a fictional world war between the United States and Russia, Sergeant Rex "Power" Colt travels to a secret island to save the world from the schemes of a rogue agent bent on returning the planet to the stone age. Blood Dragon is drenched in '80s nostalgia, but it never feels forced or tired, and I dare you to not laugh out loud during any of the game's cutscenes. Read about how the game came together in our online retrospective.
Thanks to games from the last few years like Heavy Rain and Telltale's The Walking Dead, storytelling games have risen in popularity. Games like Device 6 and The Stanley Parable tell an interactive story with a minimal amount of gameplay. Out of all of the interactive fictions that came out this year, Gone Home is probably my favorite. The story opens with a young woman named Kaitlin returning home after an extended trip abroad. During this one long, stormy night, she travels throughout the empty house slowly trying to figure out why her family isn't home and piece together the conflicts that arose while she was away. I thought Gone Home's narrative beautifully unraveled through interaction with the environment, and featured a few chilling moments you won't forget.
Most gamers won't be surprised to see BioShock on this list. The original BioShock is still heralded as one of the best video game stories ever told, and while the game itself is a fairly standard shooter, the story of BioShock Infinite doesn't disappoint. BioShock Infinite starts with a man named Booker traveling to a floating city in the sky to rescue a woman named Elizabeth from a sinister prophet named Comstock. However, the details of this tale are infinitely more complex, and by the end of the game, certain revelations will have you questioning your assumptions about every character, and maybe even the universe itself.
Those are my favorite stories from the year; what are yours? Ni No Kuni? GTA V? Animal Crossing: New Leaf? Tell me what moved you this year and why.